On Sunday Spurs played Hull City at White Hart Lane and won 1-0. Post-match, following a lacklustre performance, Andre Villas-Boas criticised the crowd, blaming the fans for not making it “easy to play in this stadium when the atmosphere is like this”.
Three days later, Spurs played Hull at home again, this time in the Capital One Cup, and with the score tied at 2-2 after 120 minutes, they needed penalties to progress to the next round.
This time AVB praised the crowd for the atmosphere they created during a “great, entertaining game”.
The experiment, if we want to extend the metaphor, was “how do negative fans affect the atmosphere of a game as opposed to the positive supporters?”
Now, this ‘experiment’ wasn’t like-for-like conditions – there were some variables: each side made changes to the starting lineup (Spurs seven to Hull’s five), it was a cup game rather than a league game, and it was a cup crowd rather than a league crowd – but it was the second time Spurs had faced Hull at White Hart Lane in the space of three days with the same managers and formations playing on the same pitch.
The outcome of my experiment was that the positive atmosphere did nothing to help the outcome of the match over 90 minutes – in the cup, over 90 minutes, Spurs drew 1-1 against a team they should beat at home, compared to a 1-0 victory over 90 minutes in the league game.
Fascinating stuff for the scientists out there, I am sure you will agree…
The positivity of the crowd did little to affect the outcome of the match over 90 minutes, but over 120+ minutes, in my opinion, the crowd motivated players to dig-deep and get the win. Tired players such as Kaboul and Paulinho (to name but two) started to fade, but were lifted by the crowd and had enough in the tank to finish the game and stand up and be counted in the penalty shootout. They needed the crowd to spur them on (excuse the pun).
Regardless of the results in these two games, the bigger picture was that a shift in fan mentality and atmosphere at White Hart Lane was well overdue…
I thought that AVB was right to criticise the crowd after Sunday’s game
The atmosphere at the Lane has been poor over the past few seasons. The last time I can remember an atmosphere at White Hart Lane making the hairs on the back of my neck stand up was during the 2009/10 season. My season ticket was in ‘The Shelf’, I used to stand in the small corner section where the yellow railings are and the drummer used to be known to some as ‘The Cage’.
2009/10 was a big season for all Spurs fans, the first in which we qualified for the Champions League. The fans created a buzzing atmosphere at the Lane by fully supporting the team, living and dying with the every kick of the ball, and willing every player on. We beat every top side that season at home except Manchester United.
Expectations were lower then – we still hadn’t tasted Champions League football and still weren’t spoken about as a ‘top-four’ club.
The atmosphere at the Lane peaked that season with back-to-back 2-1 home wins against Arsenal and Chelsea – the Spurs fans were a huge factor in these games, pivotal games that ultimately secured us fourth position.
At the end of that season it felt like I did my job as a fan, I’d sang my heart out and supported the team 110% and the team fulfilled their potential.
Since then, the atmosphere has deteriorated and we are now besieged with several sections/members of the crowd that now prefer to moan and be negative towards the team based on the back of some unrealistic, sky-high, expectations for both the team and individual players. The reality is we may have spent money, but we haven’t become Brazil overnight.
Us Spurs fans needed a kick up the ar$e a long time before AVB’s blast, he just had the bottle to demand more from a set of football fans that demand everything from, but don’t give everything to, the team.
These days at the Lane it is not uncommon to hear cliché terrace songs like “we forgot that you were ‘ere”, “your support is f*cking sh!t” or “you’re supposed to be at home” booming out from a rowdy away end with little retort from home fans. For large periods of games at White Hart Lane the crowd can easily fall silent, and not any kind of silent, pin drop silent – it’s embarrassing.
When we do sing, it is the same old stuff that people aren’t getting involved with.
Hats off to Northern supporters that seem to come up with original, funny, chants that both home and away fans enjoy as well as the players themselves – decent banter.
This is another reason that stifles the atmosphere at White Hart Lane – anyone with a new song is more likely to get shot down than joined in it’s chorus. The more imaginative chants are consigned to only being viewed on YouTube rather than sung in the stands – they do a ‘Helder Postiga’ – despite potential they never quite make it.
Wednesday night was only one game, that type of support needs to happen all season. The 1882 movement, who were in full force on Wednesday (fair play to them), and also the ‘Revive The Lane’ campaign on Twitter are encouraging signs that other fans are up for it.
For me, the atmosphere has to return to White Hart Lane if the club are going to be successful. Spurs are a young team, with young players still finding their feet in the English game, and we need to make the Lane a place where the team feel confident enough to express themselves and make the odd mistake if the team is to fulfil it’s potential once again. Our home ground needs to become a horrible place for away teams to come to.
From a pure football fan perspective, we need the atmosphere back to prove that corporate culture and the prawn sandwich brigade haven’t taken over at Spurs, a battle that fans all over the country should be fighting to keep the heart and soul of football alive. It is time to stop admiring fans like Dortmund’s because we can all be those fans and return the atmosphere at English grounds to what it once was.